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Council says no to state contract

Michael Kiral / L’Observateur / July 17, 1998

EDGARD – The St. John the Baptist Parish Council voted to discontinue itsgrass cutting contract with the state Tuesday, saying it’s time to make parish streets the first priority.

The parish had been getting $48,000 annually under the contract, but the council argued that it’s costing the parish more than that to cut grass on state servitudes. Parish administrator Pat McTopy said he has been tryingfor the past three to four years to get the state to increase the funding.

At a meeting in June the council asked the administration if it could have a plan ready in regards to grass cutting. It was disappointed Tuesday nightwhen the administration did not have one to present. McTopy said therecommendation of the administration is to renew the contract with the state.

“We feel the overall benefit to the community will be achieved by renewing the contract,” he said.

Councilman Richard Wolfe disagreed, however, saying he has grass 6 to 9 feet tall in his district. Wolfe passed around pictures to the councilshowing the growth of the grass in his district.

“You are not concerned about the parish or parish streets,” Wolfe told the administration. “You are concerned about the state. Priority number one isparish streets. Let the state take care of itself. Let’s take care of ourstreets first, then take care of the state. My recommendation is for thestate to take care of its business and we take care of our business.”Councilman Kevin Duhon said Wolfe was 100 percent correct.

“Let’s take care of our streets,” Duhon said. “If we can’t get more moneyfrom the state on the contract, we don’t want the contract.”Joel McTopy said he can no longer tolerate spending more money than the parish gets in from the state.

“It is not getting the job done for our constituency,” McTopy said. “It maytake care of the few, but it doesn’t take care of the many.”Councilman Perry Bailey asked how the parish expected to enforce its grass cutting ordinance when it wasn’t taking care of its own responsibilities.

“This is not a district problem, it is a parish problem,” Bailey said.

The council voted 6-3 to not to renew the contract. Councilman RanneyWilson voted in the majority but asked that the parish continue to cut the areas where parish streets intersect with state right-of-ways and at railroad crossings.

Councilman Steve Thornton, one of the three to vote against the motion, said a representative of the Department of Transportation and Development had said at the council’s last meeting that the state grass may be cut only twice a year without a contract. Thornton did say there isa need for the council to work together to take the information discussed to the parish’s legislative delegation and get more money for the project.

Council chairman Duaine Duffy also voted against the motion but said he was disappointed the administration did not have a plan ready as it said it would. Duffy also said that thanks to the sheriff, the parish had added a20-person inmate program that did much of the state grass cutting and that parish streets were still not getting cut.

The council also approved a motion by Joel McTopy to direct the sit down with the state and propose a new plan for a contract.

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